Three months ago, Hudson Valley One brought you the sorrowful news that a beloved Midtown Kingston culinary institution was closing up shop. Founded by Tony Saccoman in 1937, Tony’s Pizzeria was one of the first of its kind in the area. Difficult as it may be to believe that takeout pizza wasn’t always a fixture of small Northeastern cities, it created a stir, even baffling some Kingstonites when it opened. According to Tony’s granddaughter Linda Saccoman, “No one knew what a pizza was.”
That unfamiliarity didn’t last long. Tony’s Pizzeria became a great success, thriving even after it passed out of the hands of the Saccoman family in the 1950s and through several changes of ownership thereafter. Its location at 582 Broadway was golden: at the corner of Cornell Street, half a block from UPAC and next door to what once was Deising’s Bakery, within reasonable walking distance of Kingston High School.
The most recent owners, Nealey Farrell and Dylan Kennedy, acquired the building and the business in 2010. After a 12-year run, they finally sold their last pizza in January, to the sadness of many.
But now HV1 can bring you happier news. A year-and-a-half-ago, we shared the story of three enterprising young people – Ilan Bachrach, Innis Lawrence and his wife Sophie Peltzer-Rollo who had just renovated an antiques venue in High Falls known as the Black Barn, transforming it into a gourmet pizzeria. Called Ollie’s after Lawrence and Peltzer-Rollo’s daughter, and blessed with high visibility, a big grassy yard for socially distanced outdoor dining and the natural music of the town’s eponymous cascades within earshot, the place did well, despite being founded in the midst of pandemic times.
Trained by legendary Brooklyn pizza maestro Frank Pinello, the team quickly won many fans with their chewy pies made with high-end ingredients, locally sourced wherever possible. You can eat Ollie’s Pizza indoors now, since last October, and it’s a beautiful space with an impressive marble-topped oval bar. “Ollie’s going great,” Peltzer-Rollo reports. So great, in fact, that the team is ready to expand – and give Tony’s a new incarnation.
You heard it right, folks: Tony’s Pizzeria will continue to be a pizzeria – or, to be painstakingly accurate, a restaurant with a pizzeria right next door. Bachrach, Lawrence, Peltzer-Rollo and their longtime chef Chris Bradley had been looking for a space in Kingston for some time. “Then Tony’s came on the market and it was too good an opportunity to pass up,” Bradley says. They bought the building, plus a larger and a smaller adjacent storefront. (Fat Cat Deli has taken over the former Deising’s on the corner.) Both have long been vacant, and all three storefronts need “a lot of renovation – Tony’s hasn’t had much since the ‘30s.” That work is barely getting started, so it’ll be autumn-to-winter before the spaces reopen.
And what will be there by year’s end? “Three new businesses,” says Peltzer-Rollo. “One will be a New York City-style slice shop,” using the same dough recipe that has made the High Falls pizzeria a hit. “Not too thick, not too much cheese, not doughy, no ‘flop,’ very crispy, with high-quality ingredients: the same thing like at Ollie’s,” Lawrence explains. Ollie’s Slice Shop will have a dozen or so small tables so people can dine in, but will cater mainly to folks who just want a quick bite.
The bigger space will be “a retail market with prepared foods, including a nose-to-tail butchery and a commissary kitchen,” Peltzer-Rollo says. This new market will be called Fletcher and Lu’s, carrying on the team’s tradition of naming their businesses after their children. A butcher with excellent credentials has been recruited to run the operation. “He was trained in France to make charcuterie, so there’ll be fresh and cured sausages,” Bradley says. “We’ll have rotisserie chickens, whole, by the piece or as a meal with sides.” Cheeses, fresh pastas, oils, sauces, fresh-baked breads, prepared foods and dry goods will be featured – everything you might want from a European-style market except for the greengrocer side.
But what of the Tony’s Pizzeria space itself? That’s “going to require the most renovation,” Peltzer-Rollo says. When complete, the storefront will be reborn as Eliza’s (another team offspring name), a “casual French bistro with a focus on wine that’s affordable,” per Bradley. While it’ll be more of a sit-down restaurant than the slice shop on the corner, it’ll offer plenty of small plates that should appeal to UPAC patrons who want something to tide them over through the show, rather than a big dinner.
The team is proceeding with respect for the nostalgic vibe that Kingstonites cherish about the 85-year-old pizza palace. “We love the tile floors and the façades, but a lot of mechanicals need to be done,” says Bradley. “There’s a lot of emotional attachment to Tony’s. We’re trying as we do that to honor that past as much as possible, so that people still recognize the space. We’re not trying to erase the past.”
Team Ollie’s will bring in some of their seasoned High Falls staff to help run the new establishments, once they’re open, but they’ll also be looking to hire locally by the end of this year. Interested parties can contact them at email@example.com.